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A simple definition of the term sustainability refers to the inherent capability to endure in varying situations. For instance in ecological studies, this term revolves around the ability of biological systems to support life. A diversity in a wetland or forest ecosystems is a good example of sustainable biological system (Buckley & Carney, 2013). Three pillars constitute sustainability and include environmental, economic, and social fabrics. An interface between economics, social, and environmental repercussion of a certain human activity constitute sustainability (Edwards & Laurence, 2012). Sustainability is a multifactorial way of solving major problems and its constituents do not work in isolation.
For example, sustainable economics integrate social, financial and cultural aspects. In most cases, a drift towards sustainability remain challenging in different scopes and may include a change of lifestyle, policy development and social ethics. The word sustainability is common in many spheres of life and despite its popularity in solving many problems there are challenges towards implementation (Baker et al, 2013). For instance, the world has convened many forums to look into the issue of environmental degradation with the famous one being the Kyoto Protocol. Much remains to be achieved in terms of environmental sustainability in light of increased greenhouse emissions, climate change, increased human population and its devastating impacts on environmental degradation. This paper is an in-depth discussion on the term sustainability with a huge concentration on sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation.
Sustainability in Agriculture
Agriculture has experienced gradual changes since the early days of Green Revolution. Food production soared because of new technologies, enactment of better policies, mechanization, which favoured better returns. Although the aforementioned transitions had immense positive attributes in agriculture, there are prominent costs. These include soil erosion, disintegration of both social and economic conditions in the rural areas and environmental pollution. In the past two decades, a growing concern has emerged with keen interest of solving some of these problems (Gabriel et al, 2013). Sustainability in agriculture is gaining increased support in the mainstream agricultural practices. Not only does sustainable agriculture address challenge in environmental and social aspects but also provides an opportunity for policy makers, farmers, and consumers to come up with innovative ideas.
Sustainable agriculture incorporates three crucial aspects, which are environmental health, socio-economic equity and economic profitability. People in different capacities have contributed their views on the three central issues (Edwards & Laurence, 2012). Despite divergent views on sustainability in agriculture, there are general definitions, which are imminent. Sustainability revolves around the principle of meeting the present needs without compromising or affecting the future generations in the course (Lorenz et al, 2013). Therefore, being stewards of both natural and human resources is a prime concern for this new wake. Stewardship in terms of human resources entails improving the working conditions of the laborers as well as working toward better consumer health. In terms of natural resources, stewardship refers to maintaining proper land use for future generations (Edwards & Laurence, 2012).
Systems perspective is an important aspect in the definition of the term sustainability in agriculture (Lorenz et al, 2013). Broad-spectrum ideals take into consideration of looking at the individual farm, being concerned of the local ecosystem within which the farm is located in conjunction with social concerns both at local and global perspective. Interdisciplinary approach in terms of research and education is applicable in systems perspective. This involves making proper input from the workers, farmers, consumers, and policymakers (Lorenz et al, 2013). The transition towards sustainable agriculture is gradual and timely effort. It requires taking realistic goals and personal commitment towards the attainment of the goals. Sustainable agriculture is multifunctional and helps in solving many problems attributable to modern farming.
Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Management
Sustainable agriculture is increasingly valuable in the management of the output of greenhouse gases and waste management. It has revolutionized agriculture via the use of renewable resources (Gabriel et al, 2013). Sustainability hinges on a combined outlook at environmental changes their influence to the society, planet and the economical outcomes. It is believed that the three are interlinked and remain to be a challenge for the public and private sector to take three dimensions into a joint account.
With an increasing world population, new techniques for crop production and animal husbandry are imminent at bridging the gap in food security. New technologies find great applicability in agriculture, thus finding use in different areas worldwide with huge expectation in food production. These include the use of transgenic animals and plants in food production (Gabriel et al, 2013). These technologies contributed via the actions of genetic engineering have raised concerns with people from different occupations arguing that they pose a danger to the environment (Baker et al, 2013). Sustainable agriculture provides a check and balances into the use of GMOs and their effects to both individuals and the environment. There are key areas of interest in sustainable agriculture.
They include the integration of natural processes such as nitrogen fixation, regeneration of soil and use of biological predators of pests in agricultural processes (Edwards & Laurence, 2012). Another key area of concern is the minimal use of non-renewable sources of energy that pollute the environment or even pose dangers to the farmers and consumers. It also entails making use of knowledge from the farmers for self-reliance i.e. substituting human capital for the costly use of inputs. Sustainability in agriculture does not rule out the possibility of using a technology (Buckley & Carney, 2013). If, for instance, this technology does help in food production and it is environmental friendly, it is beneficial on sustainability stand.
Any agricultural system around the world employing sustainability is multifactorial within the economies. They jointly help in producing food for the family as well as the markets while contributing to the public welfare through clean water, wildlife conservation and carbon sequestration. Sustainability in agriculture means better intensification of resources through making better use of the same (Baker et al, 2013). Sustainable intensification involves the use of natural, social, and human capital assets in combination with technologies to minimise or eliminate environmental pollution.
Without sustainability, agriculture can negatively influence the environment through the overuse of the resources. Some of this neglect is best referred to as negative externalities, which are the prime cause of market failure. Social system theory, as well as engineering, has a great relevance in sustainable agriculture. Luhmann, the greatest social scientist, argues that a society comprises of interacting social systems. Each system within the society creates its own reality via better communication. Everything happening in a system identifies with the logic and semantics of the same. Therefore, the use of sustainability in agriculture is identifiable as a system on its own. This system is multivariate in a manner in which it handles the issues that result from poor management. Working towards a sustainable agriculture requires close attention from the resource-conserving technologies, local institutions and external organization working closely with the local people.
Benefits of Sustainability in Agriculture
Sustainable agriculture has benefits, which are extensive in a manner with which communities and nations reap the fruits of this concerted effort. Sustainable agriculture has significant improvement, in crop yield in diverse agricultural practices. Sustainability also finds application in the generation of technologies for agricultural use (Lorenz et al, 2013). Most research institutions dealing in agriculture are developing technologies, which are a misfit to the farmers. Therefore, technologies should be both participative and responsive to the farmer’s needs and requirements. It is convincing to see communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America working together in groups and linking with external institutions in crop production and animal improvement (Buckley & Carney, 2013). Regeneration of local economies within these communities can occur due to sustainability in agriculture. Sustainable agriculture is the opposite of the conventional type, which relied upon the use of old methods in land management.
In environmental management, sustainable agriculture realizes the construct that will lead to the realization of the goals (Buckley & Carney, 2013). Sustainable agriculture means a perpetual dynamic evolution in agricultural practices to meet the needs of the changing societies and environments. Biological and economic productivity need enhancement through sustainable farming methods. The former includes feeding both the farming and the non-farming population. Any definition in sustainability in agriculture takes into account the demands of the growing population and the rising incomes. This cannot be achieved at the expense of the resources; therefore, there is a need to conserve the soil for instance.
High rates of soil loss are a primary leading factor in low productivity. Most countries lack sound policies that will help in conserving both soil and water resources (Baker et al, 2013). With a decrease in availability of arable lands, sustainability in agriculture will necessitate continual enhancement and management of soil and water resources while taking into account the biodiversity within the system (Gabriel et al, 2013). Sustainable agricultural systems need to be stable and resilient. This means it helps in reducing the risks and leads to continuity in food production and supply (Lorenz et al, 2013). This is by fulfilling the short-term requirements of the farmers without influencing on the long term environmental costs. Resilience allows adaptation to the changes in physical, socio-economic and biological environment (Buckley & Carney, 2013).
Sustainable agriculture should be environmentally viable and thus, avoid soil erosion, pollution and contamination of the adjacent ecosystems which threats reduction to the biodiversity. Social compatibility with the local people and political economies is a requirement for sustainable agriculture (Edwards & Laurence, 2012). Achieving sustainability in agriculture will mean that the world agricultural output be enhanced while at the same time conserving the resources base.
If the worlds’ less advantaged people need improvement, concerns about food security and conservation of natural resources should be planned for socio-economic development. Great attention should be integration of cropping, better livestock keeping as well as other production systems to enhance the function of broader agro ecosystem. One of the primary research objective in agricultural sustainability and environment management is the integration of information on better farming methods. This includes an interdisciplinary approach in identifying the components, which determine the functioning of agro ecosystem. An important crucial factor in the consideration is the formulation, testing and measuring the hypotheses and finally interpreting the results as they pertain to components of the agro ecosystem.
Sustainable agriculture is the prime foundations for the survival of humankind. The interaction that exists between environment and agriculture is intimate. Agriculture leads to manipulation of the environment, which creates secondary impacts on the environment. On the other hand, agriculture is liable to environmental influence through changes in climate. An intermediary is the socio-economic factors, which play a crucial role both in development and management of agriculture (Buckley & Carney, 2013).
Sustainability in agriculture takes into account these social constructs in engineering long-term benefits. This entails the use of economic efficiency, which considers both natural and socio-economic environment. Conservation of the natural resources, which are both renewable and non-renewable, forms the integral role in achieving sustainable agriculture (Buckley & Carney, 2013). The philosophical underpinnings to sustainability in agriculture need to be understood since they help in understanding the principles and practices and where they should be incorporated. Integrated farming is the best example of the synthesis of ideas in the practicability of agriculture.
A revolving need for sustainability in agriculture understands the consumer needs. In the current global arena, information and affluence is empowerment (Buckley & Carney, 2013). Information on food composition and its health benefits is considerations that make people before they purchase. Environmental objectives take both local and global scenes. Local objectives take into considerations of both climatic and edaphic factors that influence the local environment (Gabriel et al, 2013). This helps in making informed decisions in soil and water management, better land use with appropriate agricultural practices (Baker et al, 2013). Global consideration of sustainability in agriculture and the environmental impacts take into account of the world climate. These objectives with the help of sustainability will help in the creation of benign agricultural systems, which are environmentally oriented (Edwards & Laurence, 2012). An environmentally oriented approach includes planting of trees within and around the farms as a way of increasing the carbon sink and creating a microclimate experience.
Sustainability is of great relevance in many quarters of life be it education, agriculture, economics or environmental management (Lorenz et al, 2013). It is through sustainability that goals can be achieved for the betterment of the society. Sustainability in agriculture and environmental management has been a leading goal toward better food production and minimizing the emission of greenhouse gases (Edwards & Laurence, 2012). Working towards sustainability in both agriculture and environmental management has helped in achieving the goals that lean towards better production of quality food crops, which meet the demands of the consumers (Gabriel et al, 2013). Agriculture and environment are intimately linked and, therefore, sustainability in agriculture will ensure environmental protection and conservation. Enhancement and implementation of sustainability will help in the betterment of life of the human in different fields.
Baker et al, J. S. (2013). Implications of Alternative Agricultural Productivity Growth Assumptions on Land Management, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Mitigation Potential.American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2(95), 435-441.
Buckley, C., & Carney, P. (2013). The potential to reduce the risk of diffuse pollution from agriculture while improving economic performance at farm level. Journal of Environmental Science and Policy, 25(2), 118-126.
Edwards, D. P., & Laurence, S. G. (2012). Green labelling, sustainability and the expansion of tropical agriculture: Critical issues for certification schemes. ADVANCING ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION: ESSAYS IN HONOR OF NAVJOT SODHI,151(1), 60-64.
Gabriel et al, D. (2013). Food production vs. biodiversity: comparing organic and conventional agriculture. Journal of Applied Ecology, 50(2), 355-364.
Lorenz et al, M. (2013). A methodological approach for deriving regional crop rotations as basis for the assessment of the impact of agricultural strategies using soil erosion as example. Journal of Environmental Management, 127(5), 37-47.
Environmental consciousness is a fundamental requirement for any manufacturing firm or business. In response to the question of environmental consciousness, Energold drilling Corp was selected and an investigation carried out to find out if the company supported environmental conservation efforts. There are several reasons that make the company an ideal choice for an environmentally conscious person. First the company uses, environmental conservation as a marketing strategy. Rigs used for drilling by the company employees are designed to cause minimal environmental damage a factor that attracts several clients (US Business Executive, 2013).
Additionally, the company could be classified under companies that pose a threat to the environment. However, this is not the case for Energold drilling corp. unlike other companies, Energold, keeps its mineral exploration activities in check to ensure that there is no or minimal harm caused on the surrounding environment. The company is also involved in several conservation services which include rehabilitation of the already exhausted mines (US Business Executive, 2013). In this company, an environmentally conscious person would fit in well as the company already appreciates environmental conservation. Any initiative that the person makes towards environmental conservation is likely to be absorbed by the company management.
Environmental health is, by definition, a major branch of the public health that is concerned with all issues pertaining to both the natural and the built environment. The environmental health thus includes, but is not limited to, waste disposal from the medical facilities, hazardous materials from industries and elsewhere, solid waste management as well as vector control.
This paper will look at the so called the persistent organic pollutants (POP’s) due to the serious dangers and the vast detrimental effects involved; sources of this pollutant, legal terms pertaining to it, prevention and so on.
The persistent organic pollutants (POP’s) are carbon-based chemicals that negatively affect the human health as well the environment around the globe as they are highly toxic. It is, as such, a worldwide disaster that requires a global approach if we are to deal with it successfully. A common phrase used to identify these persistent organic pollutants is the dirty dozen, meaning that the main chemical compounds in this category are twelve, namely; aldrin, chlordane, dieldrin, endrin, mirex, toxaphene, polychlorinated biphenyls, dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane, hexachlorobenzene, heptachlor, polychlorinated dibenzofurants and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins.
The environment is, without any doubt, highly vulnerable to the chemical threat posed by the POP’s. Some of these POP’s pose an acute threat while others pose a chronic threat. Thus, in general term, this group of pollutant can be said to be both an acute and a chronic threat. To name just but a few examples, the pentachlorophenol poses a number of risks to human health for low level chronic exposure (EPA 2002). Studies have also confirmed that, when introduced into the environment, the man made pentachlorophenol possesses a long range potential for atmospheric transport and as such are easy in finding their way into foodstuffs meant for human beings, not forgetting drinking water and other beverages (UNEP 2004).
Another example is the hexachlorobenzene which finds its way into the environment mainly as a by-product of certain manufacturing process as well as from incineration of certain industrial wastes. To be more specific, chronic toxicity caused by pesticides is that which causes such effects as cancer, developmental and reproductive problems and endocrine disruptions.
The persistent organic pollutants are actually a systemic threat, in light of the wide range of effects, their nature and mode of travelling. The United Nations health organization classified these pollutants as either environment toxicity or the human toxicity. The human toxicity deals with those toxic pollutants that cause harm such as cancer, endocrine disruption as well as developmental and reproductive abnormalities (USDU 2004). On the other hand, the environmental toxicity deals with those pollutants that poison the environment upon which other lives depend on. For instance, animals get affected when they feed on grass that has been sprayed with pesticides. Environmental toxicity is a little bit hard to identify due to the nature of some of these pollutants and their mode of travel. For example, a sprayed pesticide could be washed away by runoff water into a river and travel to a region where it was never applied.
The effects of such a pollutant in the long run are a reduced food production, death and consequent reduction in animal population. This becomes an ecosystem threat due to the various dependencies and food chains.
The persistent organic pollutants are not only a threat to the general environment but have been proven through study, to cause a near extinction of certain species of animals as well as causing abnormalities in human beings. For instance, taking the DDT as an example, there is very conclusive evidence that there has been a great decline in the population of the birds of prey, a situation which was confirmed as early as 1960(Faber and Hickey, 1973) the DDT has also been confirmed to be a great destruction to the sexual development and behavior in other bird species such as the gulls.
Persistent organic pollutants are highly insoluble in water and highly stable to the natural degraders. Due to this nature, production of such chemicals is self-defeating in motive as far as the human life is concerned. However, all is not lost, and if an effort is made at the grass-root level towards a global objective, then it will only be a matter of time before this disaster is contained. Furthermore, the very insolubility nature of these pollutants could be used at an advantage; since they bond strongly on certain aquatic sediments, these sediments could be used a sink.
EPA Environmental Protection Agency,. Persistent Organic Pollutants: A Global Issue, AGlobalResponse.2002.
Regulating Pesticides Pesticides:. “Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). 2003.
Arctic Council. Draft Fact Sheet: Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). 2004.
UNEP United Nations Environment Program. Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) to enter into force on 17 May 2004. 2004.
Programme., UNEP United Nations Environmental. Persistent Organic Chemicals. 2004.
USDA U.S. Department of Agriculture, nd. Online Photography Center Photo Research.Pesticides.2004.
Goods can be divided into two broad categories, private goods, and public goods. The definition of a private good is a good, commodity or service that is excludable and rival. Public goods, on the other hand, refer to any good, commodity or service that is non-excludable and non-rival. In this state, public goods are referred to pure public goods, and there is also another category of impure public goods. Non-excludability of a good means that once the good or service is provided, every individual within the jurisdiction is entitled to enjoy the good or service (Arriagada and Charles, 2011, 798). Therefore, no one can be excluded from enjoying the good or service once it is provided. Non-rival goods allow the consumption and possession of multiple users without limit. Therefore, a pure public good is simply a good, commodity or service being offered to an unlimited number of members of the society at no profit. In this essay, the discussion will revolve around incentives that can be used to conserve marine biodiversity with the consideration of impure public goods.
An impure public good refers to any good, commodity or service that is either partially excludable or partially rival (Arriagada and Charles, 2011, 798). A private good is excludable and rival, meaning that it can only be enjoyed by the person who bought it and anyone he or she wishes to share with. Therefore in comparison to a private good, an impure public good is partially available to some people. Unlike a private good, which has limited use to one person, am impure public good is available to a limited number of people exceeding one. International Environmental Public Goods offers a wide range of goods, which benefit many individuals in multiple nations. The beneficiaries of the goods are the population of individuals in the nations involved, non-governmental organizations, transnational corporations and a number of institutions. One good example of an impure public good is cable television.
The use of cable television does not in any way diminish your methods of enjoying it; however, the company can decline to install their system in one’s house. In not diminishing one’s method of enjoying the service, it makes it non-rival. However, in case the cable company declines to install their system in one’s house, then it makes the service excludable. The externality of a good, may it be a public or a private one is the experience that the unrelated third party experiences when the good or services are offered. The externality may either be negative or positive, depending on the experience of the third party. Externalities of goods can be related to the failure of a market in most cases. The provision of impure public goods and services in order to conserve biodiversity may have both negative and positive effects. A positive externality may arise if a company reduces its pollution levels.
A negative externality may arise if a company does not reduce its emission or pollution levels. The decline of the company to reduce its emission or pollution in a great way affects the environment and all who use the resources in the area. The allocation of public goods requires the right technology to ensure that all those who are interested get a piece of the cake. Therefore, the government, non-governmental organizations or any firms involved in the offering of goods and services must ensure they are positioned in places accessible to the public. This will, therefore, include manpower and labor to ensure that there are outlets in almost all easily accessible areas. The lack of availability of a good or service to all those who use the product shows that there is a failure in the production line.
There is also a need to invest in the use of technology to inform the public about the availability of the goods. Use of technology makes sure that the information is received by the majority, if not everyone. Economic incentives can be created for impure public goods using the different technologies of public good supply. There is a couple of technologies that can be used to spread information about impure goods (Arriagada and Charles, 2011, 799). The technologies include Television and the internet, which are the most common forms of spread of information. Economic incentives can be both positive and negative, meant to accomplish success in the sale of impure public goods. Positive economic incentives can include cash prices, or certain unavailable services can be offered to the companies that show their efforts in biodiversity conservation. The companies that do not do anything concerning biodiversity conservation can be viable for monetary fines and implications put on them by the government.
Traditionally, biodiversity conservation has been achieved through the use of information support programs and capacity building. The use of these methods has brought together both environment managers from the private and public sector. The use of legislation for biodiversity conservation has only offered protection from harmful impacts on biodiversity. However, legislation does not offer sufficient incentive to drive individuals and organizations to behaviors that lead to positive activities that protect biodiversity. The use of incentives to conserve marine biodiversity may cost more than legislation. However, the former method has proved that it can provide a benefit to biodiversity, as well as the public. Creating new markets can also solve the problem of a market failure; this is where the market of an environmental good relays wrong signals to the participants (Bulte n.d., 2003, 3). Therefore, the result of the wrong signal to the participants is the assets are mismanaged. Market failures are the result of externalities and lack or restriction of information and the trade of public goods.
Market-based initiatives are a more cost effective method of protecting biodiversity, and they require precise clarity on the details of the market. With such conditions, the participants need to specify what they want, how they want it and the amount they are interested in the goods (Arriagada and Charles, 2011, 802). The use of research in environmental and resource economics has provided the necessary information on how non-market goods and services might be valued better. Therefore, the knowledge of the management of the goods and services can be incorporated into new and existing markets. Market-based incentives address market failures through three methods; price-based approaches, quantity-based approaches and improve functioning of existing markets. Price-based approaches are aimed at redefining the price to bring a change in the market behavior that brings sustainable prices. Examples include rebates, taxes, auctions and subsidies. Quantity-based approaches specify a level of an environmental good and service; examples include environmental offsets and cap-and-trade systems. The third approach is intended to improve the way the existing markets function, and this involves reducing uncertainty and risk. It also involves the leveraging of investments as well as differentiation of the products.
In conclusion, market-based approaches are the solution to solving biodiversity problems and encouraging conservation. Biodiversity problems are mainly caused by climate change, as well as political causes. Some of the visible effects of threats to biodiversity include loss of habitat, invasion of alien species, pollution, and climate change. Humans have contributed in a large way in the biodiversity problems being experienced globally. The increase of the human population is causing more problems to the existing ones to biodiversity. Therefore, it is for humans to take the initiative of biodiversity conservation or risk the existence of the future generations. Market-based approaches seem to be the best way in which the issue of biodiversity conservation can be accomplished. Market-based approaches solve the problem of involving individuals as well as organizations to be involved in biodiversity conservative measures; something that legislation is unable to solve.
Arriagada, Rodrigo, and Charles Perrings. "Paying for International Environmental Public Goods." Ambio 40.7 2 June, 2011: 798-806. Print.
Bulte, Erwin H., Department Of Economics, Tilburg University The Netherlands, and G. Cornelis Van Kooten. "Economic Incentives and Wildlife Conservation." (n.d.): 1-37. 27 Oct. 2003. Print.
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